Author Archives: S.P.

John Frith: A True Catholic

A sincere, decided, and yet moderate Christian, preaching the gospel with great purity and love, this man of thirty seemed destined to become one of the most influential reformers of England. Nothing could have prevented his playing the foremost part, if he had had Luther’s enthusiastic energy or Calvin’s indomitable will. There were less strong, but perhaps more amiable features in his character; he taught with gentleness those who were opposed to the truth, and while many, as Foxe says, ‘take the bellows in hand to blow the fire, but few there are that will seek to quench it’, Fryth sought after peace. Controversies between Protestants distressed him. ‘The opinions for which men go to war’, he said, ‘do not deserve those great tragedies of which they make us spectators. Let there be no longer any question among us of Zwinglians or Lutherans, for neither Zwingli nor Luther died for us, and we must be one in Christ Jesus.’ This servant of Christ, meek and lowly of heart like his Master, never disputed even with papists, unless obliged to do so.

A true catholicism which embraced all Christians was Fryth’s distinctive feature as a reformer. He was not one of those who imagine that a national church ought to think only of its own nation; but of those who believe that if a church is the depositary of the truth, she is so for all the earth; and that a religion is not good, if it has no longing to extend itself to all the races of mankind… No one is the sixteenth century represented this truly catholic element better than Fryth. ‘I understand the church of God in a wide sense’, he said. ‘It contains all those whom we regard as members of Christ. It is a net thrown into the sea.’ This principle, sown at that time as a seed in the English reformation, was one day to cover the world in missionaries.

J.H. Merle D’Aubigne, The Reformation in England Vol. II, 131–132.

Our Lord’s Olivet Discourse

“And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’” (Mt. 27:25)

Introduction

Perhaps one of the most misinterpreted teachings of our Lord today can be found in Matthew 24, known as the Olivet Discourse. It is here where many Christians find what they believe to be still-future prophecies regarding the end of the world – wars, earthquakes, persecution, false prophets, the ‘abomination of desolation’, signs in the sky, and more terrifying things before the return of Christ.

In fact, when preparing for this position paper we experienced an earthquake in Idaho and then a few weeks later fear of COVID-19 swept our nation. Both of these events, along with locusts in Africa, have been referred to by John Piper as “pointers” reminding us of Christ’s return.[1] But what if this is a misapplication of Jesus’ lesson to His disciples on the Mount of Olive? What if in this particular passage he was primarily referring to an event that has already taken place? 

In this short look at Matthew 24, I will seek to show that Jesus’ prophecy in the Olivet Discourse has already been fulfilled—specifically at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. I too once believed that Jesus’ prophecy was yet to be fulfilled and turned to Matthew 24 in order to understand the “end times.” But I now believe that if we pay proper attention to the context, audience, and the way in which Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled after His ascension, we can see that the events described in the Olivet Discourse have indeed taken place.

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Ravi Zacharias (1946 – 2020)

This man wrote the book that led me to see Jesus of Nazareth as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16).

A few years ago before his young colleague Nabeel Qureshi went to be with the Lord, I told Nabeel about the impact of Ravi’s ministry on me when I was 16. Nabeel replied saying that he would let Ravi know since they were currently driving in a car together.

That was nice, but I look forward to telling Ravi in person one day—in glory.

True Catholicity

J.H. Merle d’Aubigné:

The residence of Tyndale and his friends in foreign countries, and the connections there formed with pious Christians, testify to the fraternal spirit which the reformation then restored to the church. It is in Protestantism that true catholicity is to be found. The Romish Church is not a catholic church. Separated from the churches of the East, which are the oldest in Christendom, and from the reformed churches, which are the purest, it is nothing but a sect, and that a degenerate one. A church which should profess to believe in an episcopal unity, but which kept itself separate from the episcopacy of Rome and of the East; and from the evangelical churches, would be no longer a catholic church; it would be a sect more sectarian still than that of the Vatican, a fragment of a fragment. The church of the Saviour requires a truer, a diviner unity than that of priests, who condemn one another. It was the reformers, and particularly Tyndale, who proclaimed throughout Christendom the existence of a body of Christ, of which all the children of God are members. The disciples of the reformation are the true Catholics (The Reformation in England, Vol. I, p. 367).

Holidays in the Reformed Tradition

Introduction

Many Christians in Reformed churches today fall into two categories with regards to Christian holidays: staunch rejection of them as not Reformed or uncritical observance of them. In this position paper, my aim is to demonstrate that Christian holidays, specifically what have been called the five evangelical feast days, are both historically Reformed and profitable for the Church today.

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Favorite Books A.D. 2019

This is the fifth year that I have tracked my reading, both recording my favorite books and also my overall reading on Goodreads. Previous years: 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.

  1. Institutes of the Christian ReligionJohn Calvin (Beveridge trans.)
  2. Principle of ProtestantismPhilip Schaff
  3. Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Vols. I, II, III (particularly Vol. III)
  4. Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s SupperKeith Mathison
  5. Andrew and the FiredrakeDouglas Wilson
  6. Reformed DogmaticsHeinrich Heppe
  7. Can We Trust the Gospels? Peter J. Williams
  8. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American WestStephen Ambrose
  9. A Failure of NerveEdwin Friedman
  10. The Theopolitan VisionPeter Leithart
  11. The Virtue of NationalismYoram Hazony

Mary, Our Example

This exhortation was given on December 8, 2019 at Christ Church Downtown.

Many years ago, a messenger of God named Gabriel visited a young virgin in the city of Nazareth. Her name was Mary, and she was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David.

After greeting Mary and comforting her, the angel Gabriel presented her with a message from the Lord:

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:31–33).

“But how can this be?” asked Mary in all sincerity, “since I do not know a man?”

Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35).

And Mary, in all meekness and humility, responded to the greatest mystery of our faith saying: “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38).

This Lord’s Day I want us to consider the Virgin Mary, our example in the faith.

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